Monday, September 30, 2019

Kittling: Books: On My Radar: Larry D. Sweazy's The Lost Are the La...

Kittling: Books: On My Radar: Larry D. Sweazy's The Lost Are the La...: After reading Larry Sweazy 's Marjorie Trumaine mysteries about a professional book indexer and farm wife in 1960s North Dakota, I...

In Reference To Murder: Media Murder for Monday 9/30/19

In Reference To Murder: Media Murder for Monday 9/30/19

Lesa's Book Critiques: The Stalking by Heather Graham

Lesa's Book Critiques: The Stalking by Heather Graham

TEXAS BOOK LOVER: Monday Roundup: Texas Literary Calendar Sept. 30-O...

TEXAS BOOK LOVER: Monday Roundup: Texas Literary Calendar Sept. 30-O...: Bookish goings-on in Texas for the week of September 30-October 6, 2019 compiled exclusively for  Lone Star Literary Life  by Texas Book ...

Aubrey Hamilton Reviews: This Is What Happened by Mick Herron

Mick Herron is a talented author of crime fiction that is routinely shortlisted for major awards. His books about a group of failed MI-5 agents are utterly brilliant in concept and execution. This Is What Happened (Soho Crime, 2018) is a stand-alone spy novel with several surprises along the way.
Maggie Barnes is 26 years old, living alone in London in a sublet room and working a mediocre job in a large corporate mail room. Both parents are gone, her only sibling is a sister to whom she hasn’t spoken for years. Few friends and not many interests, she could disappear and no one would notice. She often treats herself at a coffee shop on the way home from work, where she’s approached one day by a stranger who engages her in conversation. Too lonely to question this man’s attention and motives, she comes to rely on meeting him. Eventually this stranger explains he’s from MI-5 and that the company she works for is under surveillance for its foreign connections. He needs someone to install a program on their computer network so MI-5 can monitor the company’s activities.
Naïve Maggie does not question anything this complete stranger tells her. He coaches her for weeks on how to install the program, which computer to use, how to escape detection by the security guards, etc. On the night she is to install the system, she hides in a ladies’ room until midnight, when she sneaks up several flights of stairs to the executive offices and successfully inserts the flash drive she’s been given in a senior manager’s computer and turns the computer on. En route downstairs, however, she runs into one of the security guards who knows she shouldn’t be in the building at that hour.
From that point on, the story takes so many twists and turns, the reader might reasonably feel the onset of whiplash. Unexpectedly dark, loaded with suspense, it’s easy to quickly become invested in Maggie and her well-being, which is seriously in doubt at several points in the story.
Publishers Weekly and Booklist starred reviews.

·         Hardcover: 272 pages
·         Publisher: Soho Crime (January 30, 2018)
·         Language: English
·         ISBN-10: 1616958618
·         ISBN-13: 978-1616958619

Aubrey Hamilton ©2019

Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and reads mysteries at night.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

The Rap Sheet: Revue of Reviewers for 9/29/19

The Rap Sheet: Revue of Reviewers for 9/29/19

Crime Review Update: New Issue of Crime Review

We feature new 20 reviews in each issue of Crime Review (, together with a top industry interview. This time it’s author Peter Ritchie in the Countdown hot seat:

We’re on Twitter at:

Crime Review: @CrimeReviewUK

Linda Wilson: @CrimeReviewer

Sharon Wheeler: @lartonmedia

This week’s reviews are:

THE LONG CALL by Ann Cleeves, reviewed by Linda Wilson

A man is found stabbed to death on the bleak North Devon coast. Detective Inspector Matthew Venn leads the hunt for the killer.

ACCIDENTAL AGENT by Alan Judd, reviewed by Arnold Taylor

Brexit negotiations are taking place and are proving troublesome. When Charles Thoroughgood, Head of MI6, learns from his Director of Operations that somebody working for the EU Commission has offered to provide information to the British Government, he has decide what to do in order to test its trustworthiness.

AMERICAN HEROIN by Melissa Scrivener Love, reviewed by Chris Roberts

Lola Vasquez has become a woman of substance in her South LA suburb through the retailing of narcotics, but her continued survival depends upon meeting challenges with some very tough decisions.

TO CATCH A KILLER by Emma Kavanagh, reviewed by John Cleal

Detective Sergeant Alice Parr is first attender at the attempted murder of an unidentified woman in a London park. As the case expands, she discovers she is chasing a killer, always one step ahead, with her own life in danger.

HEY SHERLOCK! by Simon Mason, reviewed by Linda Wilson

The disappearance of a girl from home late one night puzzles the police. Teenage sleuth Garvie Smith has his own ideas about Amy Roecastle’s disappearance, but no one is particularly interested in his take on things, at least not until their own ideas start to run out.

THE GLASS WOMAN by Caroline Lea, reviewed by Ewa Sherman

A young woman, Rósa, is suddenly married off to Jón Eiríksson, a brooding widower and a wealthy chieftain of an isolated settlement in 17th century Iceland. As she joins him at his croft, she becomes aware of many secrets surrounding her husband, especially the suspicion that he has murdered his previous wife.

SLEEP by CL Taylor, reviewed by Kati Barr-Taylor

One of the seven hotel guests is a murderer, and he or she is watching Anna.

THE COPY CAT by Jake Woodhouse, reviewed by Chris Roberts

Inspector Jaap Rykel returns, on leave with PTSD but unable to resist involvement when a murder is reported with features corresponding precisely to a previous homicide for which a man has already been imprisoned.

FIGHT JACK by Anna Smith, reviewed by John Cleal

Former corporate lawyer Kerry Casey is slowly steering her father’s gangland empire towards legitimacy, but faces a deadly threat from a vicious Columbian drugs cartel.

HEADLONG by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, reviewed by Sharon Wheeler

A leading literary agent has been found dead – and DCI Bill Slider and his team are under pressure from the powers-that-be to confirm that the death was accidental. Slider’s not so sure, though.

THE HAUNTING OF HENDERSON CLOSE by Catherine Cavendish, reviewed by Linda

Hannah has landed her dream job as a tour guide, playing the part of a woman living in 1830s Edinburgh, but when things start to go bump in the daytime as well as the night, she starts to wonder if she’s bitten off more than she can chew.

SURFEIT OF SUSPECTS by George Bellairs, reviewed by Chris Roberts

When an explosion at a Surrey joinery kills three of the directors, Superintendent Tom Littlejohn of Scotland Yard is called in to investigate.

A DEATH IN CHELSEA by Lynn Brittney, reviewed by John Cleal

A society gossip writer is found hanged. She was hated by many and her family are convinced she was murdered. A small crime-fighting team are tasked to find the truth.

55 by James Delargy, reviewed by Kati Barr-Taylor

Heath and Gabriel are telling the same story about their abduction. But one of them is lying.

FIXED ODDS by William McIntyre, reviewed by Chris Roberts

Lawyer Robbie Munro returns to represent George ‘Genghis’ McCann, a drug addict on legal aid, and Oscar ‘The Showman’ Bowman, a rich snooker champion.

HUDSON’S KILL by Paddy Hirsch, reviewed by John Cleal

As New York City expands, black and Irish gangs fight for control and speculators gamble fortunes. When a young girl is found butchered, Marshal Justy Flanagan and his friend Kerry O’Toole, penetrate a shadowy community and must fight to save the city – and their own lives.

FOUND by Erin Kinsley, reviewed by Kati Barr-Taylor

Claire and Matt are about to learn that abduction brings more than fear, hopelessness and impotence – it brings an impenetrable silence.

DEEP BLUE TROUBLE by Steph Broadribb, reviewed by Linda Wilson

Gibson ‘The Fish’ Fletcher has broken out of prison, killing several guards in the process. Bounty hunter Lori Anderson has the job of bringing him back.

ROGUE KILLER by Leigh Russell, reviewed by John Cleal

Only Detective Sergeant Geraldine Steel thinks a murder is the work of a more deliberate killer. When two more victims die in similarly indiscriminate attacks, the spectre of a serial killer stalks York.

A PLACE TO LIE by Rebecca Griffiths, reviewed by John Barnbrook

Joanna’s sister is stabbed in a London convenience store. Her death appears linked to a summer spent in the countryside when they were children, a time when sinister events happened.

Best wishes


RTE Update: September 28 Issue of RTE

The September 7 2019 issue of RTE is out and includes fifteen new reviews and a new interview.

Our guest in the "Sixty Seconds" spot this week is Nancy Boyarsky:

                                            REVIEWS THIS WEEK:

HEAVEN, MY HOME    Attica Locke    Reviewed by Barbara Fister

THE LAST WIDOW    Karin Slaughter    Reviewed by Anne Corey

WHITE HOT SILENCE    Henry Porter    Reviewed by Susan Hoover

THE RANSOM    Nancy Boyarsky     Reviewed by Lourdes Venard

WHAT ROSE FORGOT    Nevada Barr    Reviewed by Sharon Mensing

THE HARD STUFF    David Gordon    Reviewed by Yvonne Klein

MYCROFT AND SHERLOCK:     Kareem Abdul-Jabbar        Reviewed by Rebecca

THE EMPTY BIRDCAGE    and Anna Waterhouse

GALLOWS COURT     Martin Edwards     Reviewed by Meredith Frazier

THE BODY IN GRIFFITH PARK    Jennifer Kincheloe    Reviewed by Susan Hoover

CLAWS OF THE CAT    Susan Spann     Reviewed by Lourdes Venard

IN RHINO WE TRUST    Dave Butler    Reviewed by Sharon Mensing

DEAD SILENCE    Wendy Corsi Staub    Reviewed by Cathy Downs

CLAUSE & EFFECT    Kaitlyn Dunnett    Reviewed by Ruth Castleberry

THE FAVORITE DAUGHTER    Kaira Rouda    Reviewed by Keshena Hanson

THE BODY IN THE WAKE    Katherine Hall Page    Reviewed by Keshena Hanson

We post more than 900 new reviews a year -- all of them are archived on the site -- as well as a new interview with a top author every issue.

Yvonne Klein

Beneath the Stains of Time: The Tattoo Murder Case (1948) by Akimitsu Takagi

Beneath the Stains of Time: The Tattoo Murder Case (1948) by Akimitsu Takagi: Over the past nine months, I've read and reread a spate of Japanese detective novels and short stories by such mystery writers as Tak...

Mystery Fanfare: Crime Fiction set during the Days of Awe: Rosh Has...

Mystery Fanfare: Crime Fiction set during the Days of Awe: Rosh Has...: Rosh Hashana, the beginning of the Jewish New Year, begins tonight. The Days of Awe are the days between the beginning of the New Year a...

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Lesa's Book Critiques: Winners & An Ann Cleeves Giveaway

Lesa's Book Critiques:  Winners & An Ann Cleeves Giveaway

The Rap Sheet: Caught on the Web

The Rap Sheet: Caught on the Web

Lesa's Book Critiques: Have You Heard? - Donna Andrews' Swan for the Money

Lesa's Book Critiques: Have You Heard? - Donna Andrews' Swan for the Money

SleuthSayers: A little about Private Eyes by O'Neil De Noux

SleuthSayers: A little about Private Eyes: by O'Neil De Noux We all know there is no one-way to write, no one type of private eye, no rules – except to write clearly. In ...

KRL Update: Kings River Life Magazine for 9/28/19

Up in KRL this morning a review and giveaway of "Terns of Endearment" by Donna Andrews

And a review and ebook giveaway of "Judge Thee Not" by Edith Maxwell

And a review and ebook giveaway of "Chaser" by Dharma Kelleher

For those who prefer to listen to the podcast directly on KRL you can find the player for the latest episode here-this one features the mystery short story "The Jade Cats Mystery" by Sharon K Garner, read by local actor Ariel Linn. This one is told by a black cat, perfect for Halloween season!

Coming Attractions from Sunny Frazier, along with a giveaway from a past Coming Attractions of "Jealousy Filled Donuts" by Ginger Bolton

And a mystery short story by Joan Leotta

Up on KRL News and Reviews this week we have a review and giveaway of "Desolate Shores" by Daryl Wood Gerber

And a review and ebook giveaway of "The Curse of Hollister House" by Kathi Daley

And a review and giveaway of "Twisted at the Root" by Ellen Hart

Happy reading,

Scott's Take: JLA: Earth 2

JLA: Earth 2 by Grant Morrison and artist Frank Quitely is a story that features a good Lex Luthor from Earth 2. In fact, he is the lone hero of Earth 2. In Earth 2, The Justice League is evil and goes by the name of The Crime Syndicate Of Amerika. The Crime Syndicate rules the world with an iron fist led by Ultraman (evil Superman), Owlman (evil Batman), and more. Desperate for any chance to win his war against the evils of his world, Lex Luthor makes a bold plan to go to Earth 1 and beg The Justice League to return with him to his Earth. He has a plan to save his Earth. He needs 48 hours and their help to implement it. The Justice League members agree and the fight is on to save Earth 2.

This story was published back in October 2000 so the roster of the Justice League is different from the current books. At this time the roster includes seven members: Batman, Martian Manhunter, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash (the Wally West version--not Barry Allen), Aquaman (post losing his hand and sporting a hook for a hand and never wearing a shirt), and the Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner). It is worth noting that this is when Kyle Rayner was either a rookie green lantern who was the last green lantern or one of the last depending on the artist and the time period.

This was also when they had Aquaman was going through a phase where the writers tried to make him a Conan the Barbarian type dude or some sort of weird /pirate/warrior/king hybrid so that he theoretically would be cooler to readers. Hence, he is depicted as bearded with long hair and shirtless, and has a hand missing which means he now has a hook. His look is completed by having him wearing some sort of metal breast plate on his chest that gives folks a nice target by exposing one nipple.  Someone thought this was a good look for him during that time. Why? Who knows, but they thought this nonsense worked and so they made him look like this for awhile.

JLA: Earth 2 is one of several tales that Grant Morrison wrote over several years that were centered on The Justice League. This particular one can be read as a stand-alone and without having read the other books in the series that some readers refer to as the “Big Seven of The Justice League” books.    

The art style in the read takes some time to get used to as the male characters are also ripped to extreme levels and their faces are a bit rough. Superman and Lex Luthor suffer the worst art wise and are depicted not even fitting in chairs. Then there is the cover which depicts Superman with a very prominent bulge in his clothing.  The art is not the highlight of this collection. The story is and it is a good one.

I enjoyed the debates on ethics and whether The League should intervene in the affairs of another Earth was fun. Seeing twisted versions of the Justice League and the interactions between them and the heroes is one of the cooler parts of this story. The ending is not very typical for a comic book and surprised me. Every heroic character gets their time to shine in this story and the villains get their time to remind people they are nothing like the good guys. I enjoyed this story. It is a short read and I wish they went into more detail about the parallel world and their villains. 

JLA: Earth 2 is a fun and enjoyable read, but it is dated thanks to the unintentionally funny depiction of Aquaman. The person who approved this depiction of Aquaman has some serious issues. While it would be fine to just read this one, if you want to read the rest of the run start with Justice League of America: New World Order which features a mullet sporting Superman and the rest of the Justice League vs an army of White Martians. 


JLA: Earth 2
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Frank Quietly  
DC Comics
ISBN# 1-56389-631-1
July 2000
Paperback (also available in hardback and digital formats)
96 Pages

Material supplied by the good folks of the Dallas Public Library System. My particular copy came from the Timberglen Branch.

Scott A. Tipple ©2019

Friday, September 27, 2019

Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 18 Calls for Submissions in October 2019 - Paying ...

Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 18 Calls for Submissions in October 2019 - Paying ...: Pixabay There are 18 calls for submissions in October. All of these are paying markets, and none charge submission fees. Some accept re...

TP&WD: Game Warden Field Notes for 9/27/19

TP&WD: Game Warden Field Notes for 9/27/19

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: If Cats Disappeared from the World by Genki Kawamura ...

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: If Cats Disappeared from the World by Genki Kawamu...: Reviewed by Jeanne As the book opens, our narrator, a young postman, has been met with devastating news:   he has a stage 4 br...

FFB Review: FEVER DREAM (2011) by Dennis Palumbo Reviewed by Barry Ergang

Barry Ergang is back on the blog today with an all new review for FFB. For the full list of reading suggestions, check out Todd Mason’s Sweet Freedom blog. 

FEVER DREAM (2011) by Dennis Palumbo

Reviewed by Barry Ergang

Clinical psychologist Dr. Daniel Rinaldi, in addition to maintaining a private practice, has been a consultant to the Pittsburgh Police Department for seven years. A victim of a violent crime himself, he understands only too well how profoundly other victims, whether official or civilian, can suffer and need help to recover when impacted by crime-bred violence.

In the middle of a therapy session with a carjacking victim, Rinaldi gets a call from Pittsburgh PD Detective Eleanor Lowrey, with whom he’s worked in the past. She explains that there’s “An armed robbery in progress. Midtown, the First Allegheny Bank. We’ve got uniforms, SWAT…Looks like a couple perps…Apparently somebody’s dead in there.” Rinaldi terminates the session and heads to the crime scene.

Although there are four hostages still in the bank, one, a woman named Treva Williams, has been released. She’s an emotional wreck, and Rinaldi does his best to console her under the circumstances. When the bank is finally sieged and Rinaldi is among those who get inside, what they find is utter carnage. Only a wounded security guard named Vickers has survived.

But while he’s eventually drawn into the situation as a therapist for Treva Williams, Rinaldi also becomes involved with the gubernatorial campaign of  District Attorney Leland Sinclair, with whom he has a tenuous relationship, as well as varying mutual  relationships with members of the Pittsburgh Police Department—i.e., the aforementioned Eleanor Lowrey: potentially amorous; her partner Detective Harry Polk:  tenuous at best; and Lieutenant Stu Biegler: outright hostility. Moreover, Rinaldi learns from a professional colleague that a relatively young man, Andrew Parker, whom he knew from his time working at a psychiatric facility called Ten Oaks, has apparently committed suicide.

In what starts out as an apparently straightforward thriller but ultimately becomes, additionally, a neatly-paced and deftly-rendered whodunit, Rinaldi finds himself up against vicious killers and criminal plots in his efforts to solve multiple crimes and stay alive.   

Fever Dream is the second of Dennis Palumbo’s Daniel Rinaldi mysteries. As I’ve indicated in reviews of other titles in this series, I don’t like to provide more than the sketchiest sense of the plotlines lest I inadvertently reveal any of the twists and surprises in a story with a superior sense of characterization befitting an author who, like Rinaldi, is a clinical psychologist, and who, as a Pittsburgh native, delivers a strong sense of place.    That said, fans of mysteries which are both hardboiled and cerebral owe it to themselves to have a look at this novel and the series of which it’s a part, as long as they aren’t squeamish about street language, on-screen violence and, in some of the entries, sexuality.

© 2019 Barry Ergang

Among other works, Derringer Award-winner Barry Ergang's own impossible crime novelette, The Play of Light and Shadow, is available at Amazon and Smashwords as is his recently released book of poetry, Farrago, and other entertaining reads. For more on Barry’s books as well as his editing services, check out Barry’s website.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

In Reference To Murder: Mystery Melange for 9/26/19

In Reference To Murder: Mystery Melange for 9/26/19

The Rap Sheet: Time to Step Up Your Reading Pace

The Rap Sheet: Time to Step Up Your Reading Pace

Beneath the Stains of Time: Where There's a Will (1961) by Kip Chase

Beneath the Stains of Time: Where There's a Will (1961) by Kip Chase: Previously, I reviewed F. van Wyck Mason's Seeds of Murder (1930) and a short story by Paul Charles, " The Riddle of the Hummin...

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Nevermore: Sputnik Sweetheart, Excellent Women, C...

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Nevermore: Sputnik Sweetheart, Excellent Women, C...: Reported by Kristin Nevermore kicked off this week with a discussion of Sputnik Sweetheart by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. Al...

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Lesa's Book Critiques: The Off-Islander by Peter Colt

Lesa's Book Critiques: The Off-Islander by Peter Colt

Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 33 Writing Contests in October 2019 - No entry fee...

Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 33 Writing Contests in October 2019 - No entry fee...: Flickr - Clinton Steeds There are nearly three dozen writing contests in October for short stories, poetry, essays, scripts, and books i...

Review: TOUGH 2: Crime Stories Editor Rusty Barnes

Michael Bracken’s short story, “Itsy Bitsy Spider” starts off the fifteen 15 tales that make up Tough 2: Crime Tales. Mona Peterson was trouble from the moment she walked into Morris Ronald Boyette’s office. She had walked over from the University in the rain, sans umbrella and bra, and wants to have the detective to deal with the Professor’s sexual harassment. That case is one of several that take up his time in “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and is easily the most consequential to the good detective’s future.

Frank is a long way and many years in Chosin, Korea in “The Third Jump of Frankie Buffalo” by Thomas Pluck. A choke point is anywhere where things get really narrow and something can happen and the railroad crossing ahead of him is definitely a chokepoint. The cement mixer Frank is driving has a job to do and the stalled traffic is nothing more than an inconvenience. That is until, as the clock ticks and his mission takes a turn, it isn’t.

The time is also a major part of “Day Planner” by Matt Mattilla. In a story where events are marked by the hour and minute, the kid goes through his day trying to blend in and not draw attention to himself for good reason. Easier said than done. Especially when others cause issues.

Driving a car for Valley Cab is usually fairly easy for Gordon Jurewicz. He has his routine and an uneventful life. Then she jumped into his backseat and started screaming for him to drive in “Tally Ho” by William R. Soldan. She needs help and Gordon is eager to do so.

Anne and James talk a walk every morning on the beach of Amelia Island, Florida. It has been their routine for two years now. In “Beach Body” by C. A. Rowland, their walk is interrupted by the discovery of a body. James knew the now dead woman and probably knew her intimately. Anne knows that another scandal, just like what happened in Chicago, is soon in store and her marriage might not survive this one.

Piosa had loved the old Mustang and had spent many hours working hard to restore it. It only seems fitting that his ashes joins the car in a sort of “Viking Funeral.”  In this tale by Nick Kolakowski, setting the car ablaze is easy. Dealing with the aftermath of the fire, just like dealing with the aftermath of what they experienced over there, proves not so easy.

Marty had no idea how much he was in trouble with Shayne until after they ate at the diner just south of Charlotte. This time isn’t like the many other runs to West Palm Beach and back. In “Long Drive Home” by Andrew Welsh-Huggins, Marty has to figure out a way to deal with the new situation. Things are going to get very complicated very fast

It is a beautiful afternoon and Cowan wishes he was sitting in a seat on the plane cutting through the cobalt blue sky far above him in “Masonry” by Rob McClure Smith. He isn’t. He is also being followed. The kid who is following him is just the vanguard of a bigger problem known by the name of Prince Hall. Outnumbered and outgunned, running his mouth could be his only option. Until it isn’t.

Carla has plans and needs Arron to spring for what she wants. She knows how to work her feminine magic in “Once Upon A Time in Chicago” by Tia J’anae. But, this night is off and she felt that way from the start. She really should have listened to her inner voice that was shouting a warning.

Turner didn’t want to go behind bars, but it is what it is in “The Grass Beneath My Feet” by S. A. Cosby. Cold Water Correctional Facility is what it is. At least they let him out for a brief visit to a chapel to pray his respects to this deceased mother. It has been a long 15 years and plenty is on his mind.

Marsha knows everybody says a dead body looks like a mannequin, but it really does in “No News is Good News” by Evelyn Deshane. Even though it always seemed silly to her and she knew it was a cliché, Marsha now realizes it is definitely true. She had seen the van pull away from the nearby bus stop so maybe she has a lead for the police.  A lead that the police don’t seem to care about at all because some victims just don’t matter.

Bagging groceries isn’t that great a job, but it is a job. In Haggard, the options job wise are very few. In “The Bag Girl” by Alec Cizak, she does what she needs to do to survive. She has a job at the store and another at home and both are mind numbing and hard in their own ways.

From direct personal experience, Jean knew what the man who called himself “Samson” did two years ago. The fact that he stole the table was just a symbol of everything he stole that night. That night changed the course of her life forever. In “Sarah, Sweet and Stealthy” by Preston Lang, a form of justice comes slowly and with some help.  

Back in the 40’s, a mother abandoned her newborn in in the woods of Red Thrush Mountain. When a search party went looking after the young mother confessed, all they found was a small feed sack dress covered in feline fur. It may be years later, but the legend of what happened is still strong and a menacing presence. In “With Hair Black Than Coal” by Chris McGinley, strange things are again going on in the woods and Sheriff Curley Knott is on the case.

“She Loves First” by Mary Thorson is the final read in Tough 2: Crime Stories. Lula has been left behind as Tom is in New York to covertly photograph an execution for a New York Paper. His bird is still present and is seriously annoying. Something is going to have to change as she can’t keep living like this.

Like its predecessor, Tough: Crime Stories, the new book, Tough 2: Crime Stories, is a solidly good read. Most of the tales are on the dark side, but there are the occasional flashes of muted humor. Even if that humor tends to be on the dark and twisted side of the ledger. As one would expect from the title, these are not tales of cozy mystery where a death is gently and politely discussed by the flickering light of the fireplace while one sips tea. These are often tales where the gut churns with physical fear and one can smell the scent of murder on the night wind. While not present in every single story, these characters are often desperately clinging to life in situations where the price each day for existing to another sunrise is to kill before being killed. A mix of styles, locations, and crimes makes Tough 2: Crime Stories an enjoyable and often complicated read. 

Tough 2: Crime Stories
Editor Rusty Barnes
Redneck Press
August 2019
ISBN# 978-0578487809
Paperback Only
194 Pages

ARC PDF supplied by Editor Rusty Barnes with no expectation of a review.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2019